NASCAR driver encourages students at Kent State Stark

NASCAR driver Julia Landauer told a group of high school and college students perseverance, communication and networking are her prevailing characteristics in her racing career during a video chat on Tuesday afternoon.

Landauer will speak on Tuesday evening as part of the 29th annual Kent State Stark Featured Speaker Series.

Students from Canton South High School, Louisville High School, Kent State Geauga Campus and the Kent State Twinsburg Academic Center asked questions on Google Hangouts. The students asked Landauer questions about herself and any advice she had for them. 

“College is the only time when you have so much at your fingertips and so many ways to explore and learn from other people,” she said. 

Landauer is a NASCAR driver and two-time champion from New York City.

She started driving go-karts as a 10 year old with the encouragement of her parents. By the time she was 12, she was racing at the national level. 

“My parents went around to all the national go-kart teams that had really good equipment and good, talented people working on the go-karts,” Landauer said. “No one wanted me to drive for them. As a 12-year-old girl, they just didn’t think I was going to have what it takes to make it.”

At age 14, she was the first female champion in the Skip Barber Racing Series.

Landauer studied at Stanford University in 2014 with a Bachelor in Science, Technology and Society. Her education merged with the passion for racing to begin her NASCAR career in 2015. That year, she was the first woman to win a NASCAR Track Championship at Motor Mile Speedway in her division. 

“So when I’m able to strap into my car, put on all my seat belts, get all the equipment on, I’m then in my own little cocoon,” she said. “I can just make the outside world go away and just focus on whatever I need to focus on. It’s just so exciting.”

Being in a male-dominated sport Landauer believes the “visibility of women or people of color doing things and bringing attention is a really powerful thing,” she said. “I really believe that if you can see it, you can be it.”

She said, “I also have the sense of humor of a 14-year-old boy. So that helps me quite a bit.”

The Twinsburg Academic Center asked her how she deals with the people who say women are not as strong of racers as men. 

“I don’t listen to them,” Landauer said. “I’ve learned that reading comments on social media can be a slippery slope.”

Contact Elizabeth Gibbs at [email protected]